Questions related to the perception and measurement of light (primarily in the visible range), its mathematical description, the reproduction of colors by different means, color combinations, etc. Please use the tag [electromagnetic-radiation] if you want to refer to the general form of light.

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How does a liquid crystal on Silicon affect the phase of incident light?

When a polarized light beam is directed to a phase-only LCoS system how is the phase modulated ? What is the physical effect behind ? Does voltage modulation has an impact on birefringence ?
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2answers
2k views

Relationship between measures of light (candela and lux)

I am trying to understand the relationship between two measures of light: lux and candela. It is probably easy for those with longer experience, but here it goes: I have learnt (here for instance) ...
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4answers
610 views

What {R,G,B} values would represent a 445nm monochrome lightsource color on a computer monitor?

Is it possible to answer my question definitely (assuming the monitor is perfect)? What would be the formula for calculating RGB values for a visible monochrome light with given wavelength?
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3answers
252 views

Refraction through prism

We know that the light gets refracted when it enter a medium low/high refractive index. But why light is not refracted when it comes out from the vertex of a prism.
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3answers
595 views

During reflection does the emitted photon have same properties?

When light (photon) is reflected the the original photon is absorbed by an electron and then emitted again. Does this "new" photon have the same wavelength, frequency etc. as the original?
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3answers
202 views

Why does the point of intersection of two shadows look brighter?

When I sit in my garden during the day I always keep looking at the two intersecting shadows of two rods. It looks something like this: What I find weird about it is that at the point of ...
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6answers
10k views

Very strange shadow phenomenon

I was laying on my bed, reading a book when the sun shone through the windows on my left. I happened to look at the wall on my right and noticed this very strange effect. The shadow of my elbow, when ...
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1answer
2k views

What causes refraction of visible light? [duplicate]

Refraction is the bending of a wave when it enters a medium where its speed is different. The refraction of light when it passes from a fast medium to a slow medium bends the light ray toward the ...
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1answer
233 views

Difference between mirror reflected light rays and rays of a screen

What is the difference between the light rays reflected from a mirror and rays directly emmited from a screen if the screen shows the same image as the mirror would.
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2answers
926 views

Why are two independent sources incoherent?

Coherent sources are produced from a single parent source. But, why are two independent sources always incoherent? Two sources can produce light of the same frequency. Then, I guess the problem is ...
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0answers
32 views

Axis of reflection in a mirror [duplicate]

When I look at my reflection in a planar mirror, the image I see is reflected about a vertical axis. Why is it this axis and not the horizontal axis?
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3answers
69 views

Wall visible after light source removed

Let's say you have a lamp pointed at a wall, in a dark room with no other light source, if you turned off that lamp Would the wall still be visible for any amount of time?
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0answers
56 views

What creates black streams in fountain-type fireworks?

For the New Year celebration of 2014, my nephews set off a series of fountain-type fireworks (as shown below). When one looks carefully into the shower of light, one notices that a fair number of ...
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2answers
1k views

Why is the blue color of sky darker in high altitude regions?

I read that as the air density is lower at high altitudes, the scattering is less, hence the darker blue but then other colors are scattering lesser than blue, why don't we see a darker shade of the ...
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1answer
117 views

Can Massless Particles Have Dimensions? [duplicate]

We have been taught that anything occupying space/volume has mass. Light has both a particle nature-photon and wave nature. Since It has an momentum of h/λ, energy of hc/λ. Since a photon carries ...
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1answer
40 views

Diffraction from interatomic spacing

In diffraction from a single slit, we learn that the angular width of the central maxima, is given by $2\sin^{-1}\frac \lambda d$. For $d\approx \lambda$, the incoming wavefront should be spread to ...
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4answers
449 views

Why do the passing objects' shadows run in the direction of the moving train?

While travelling in the train on the sunset, I have noticed the strange phenomenon. The shadows of the lonely trees and lampposts, that stay along the railroad, are moving on the wall in the same ...
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0answers
18 views

What is the amount of EM energy from the sun reaching the earth as a function of wavelength?

The question stems from a desire to know if more light from the sun in the infrared wavelengths has more energy than light at say yellow or violet wavelengths - at the Earth's surface. I'm guessing a ...
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1answer
187 views

Why can't we see things swallowed by black holes?

Apologies in advance, I'm a layman with only a school-level education in physics. If an object approaching the event horizon of a black hole has its light cone progressively bent towards the black ...
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1answer
114 views

What is the intrinsic colour of the star? [closed]

Hey I have this question and I am wrestling with it all day and I am completely lost. The V magnitude of a star is 15.1, B-V =1.6, and absolute magnitude Mv= 1.3 The extinction in the direction of ...
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1answer
117 views

Polarisation of light is a wave concept or applicable to photons as well?

I have a very fundamental question. We explain polarisation of light assuming wave nature of light. Is it still valid if we assume light as photons? Or in other words, polarisation is a wave concept ...
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7answers
938 views

Is the sun's solar radiance spectrum matching up with water's absorption spectrum just coincidence?

People frequently point out that water has a pretty narrow range in which it isn't very absorbing of light, reaching a minimum at a wavelength of about 500nm: And that our eyes have made good use ...
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1answer
105 views

Young's DS experiment and most light sources

The reason why two independent bulbs cannot be used to create the young's two slit interference pattern is that the phase difference between those two sources varies very rapidly and therefore, the ...
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3answers
238 views

Is everyone seeing the same color as I see? [duplicate]

As the cone cells are different in numbers in people, how can we say that everyone is seeing the color as same? for example the color you are saying as red may be not the one i see as red..
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1answer
96 views

When was it established light travels forever?

The range of electromagnetic radiation is indefinite. When was that established? Doesn't Hubble's limit have an effect?
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2answers
10k views

Is black a color or absence of color? [closed]

Is black a color or absence of color? When there is no light, everything is black, so how can we say that black is a color?
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2answers
72 views

Can a broken light filter shift the wavelength of light exiting it?

I've measured the wavelength of light emitted from a red Helium–Neon laser passing through a red intensity filter (indirectly, by fitting a function to a single slit diffraction pattern, then forcing ...
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3answers
1k views

What color would you see if you place 2 mirrors in opposit when one is a one way mirror

What would you see if you have 2 huge mirrors (you cant look over it or next to it) You place them with the reflecting side to each other and you look in the mirror from behind one mirror (one way ...
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0answers
115 views

How to get “massless” equation of motion from the action of Nordstrom scalar field theory?

There is Nordstrom theory of the particle moving in a scalar field $\varphi (x)$: $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d \lambda}\frac{dx^{\beta}}{d ...
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1answer
68 views

Question about the refraction of Fresnel lenses

If you line up the suns rays parallel to a Fresnel lens, the light is concentrated, and the focus directly underneath. However, what happens if the sun is off to the side, making the light hit at an ...
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4answers
5k views

Real and imaginary parts of dielectric constant vs refractive index?

So for a complex dielectric constant $\epsilon = \epsilon_a + i\epsilon_b$, the wave vector and index of refraction are related to it through $k = \frac{\omega}{c}n$ and $n = \sqrt{\frac{\mu ...
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1answer
59 views

The resolution limit for lithography in practice?

For a given wavelength of light $\lambda$, and a given numerical aperture (NA), I always see the statement in papers/etc. that we can perform lithographic patterning at the Rayleigh limit given by ...
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1answer
60 views

How to calculate the heat of a metal?

Lets say I leave 100g of copper outside under a convex lens that is 1m squared in surface area (I've been told that 1m2 of sunlight equals 1Kw). How would I figure out the temperature reached for a ...
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0answers
89 views

Spreading UV light? Fresnel lenses?

I'm making a little UV exposure box and I'm looking for a way to evenly spread out the UV light. I've used Fresnel lenses to do just this in the past, but that was for visible light. But from what ...
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3answers
192 views

Do electromagnetic waves have endpoints?

When learning about electromagnetic waves at school we never talked about any endpoints as we did with standing waves, so I assumed that light has an endless length, but that doesn't make sense. So my ...
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0answers
30 views

Are “phase-specific” masks ever used in the context of double exposure lithography? Can these sorts of things exist?

I was recently reading an 08' paper on double exposure lithography: and I was wondering if there existed some material that could be used to create a mask for e.g. a 193 nm light source that was only ...
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1answer
47 views

Why isn't ray optics applicable for marginal rays?

I have been studying light and going a little bit ahead I studied about ray optics and one thing each book had in notes is ray optics is applicable only for paraxial rays not marginals rays, I was ...
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1answer
936 views

Why does light travel at finite speed? [duplicate]

We have known for quite some time now that light travels at a finite speed of 3x10^8m/s (approx) through vacuum. But why is that? Why can't the speed be infinite? Or at least higher than the current ...
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2answers
127 views

How to produce a loss-free combination of two “identical” beams?

This is for anyone with experience in optics/imaging/photography as well as anyone who likes to puzzle over tricky physics problems. As the title suggests, this is about combining two (for all ...
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1answer
117 views

How is the orientation of an electromagnetic wave determined?

I was looking up for how polarisers work, I understood mostly everything except the part that explains that the polariser filters everything except light that is in a certain orientation. Here are my ...
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1answer
973 views

Didn't Newton's Corpuscular theory fail to explain reflection?

In 1637 Descartes gave the corpuscular model of light and derived Snell's law. This Corpuscular model of light was further developed by Isaac Newton in his famous book entitled OPTICKS and because of ...
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3answers
607 views

Does brightness of the light remains constant with the variation of the distance with respect to the source in vaccum?

I have this question going in my mind from many days, i.e why brightness of light emitted from any light source around us decreases with distance? The brightness of light from tube light, streetlight, ...
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2answers
73 views

What gives an object its colour?

My understanding of colour is that atoms in a particular object will absorb certain wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, and the scattered wavelengths give the object its colour. The absorbed ...
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3answers
130 views

How to smooth the spectrum of a light source?

Could somebody please tell me if there's a reasonably cheap substance or device can I use to smooth the spectrum of a light source? For example, if the spectrum has spikes as in the blue graph below, ...
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3answers
923 views

Can a glass window protect from heat radiation?

I have been reading in this and found a statement saying : " Glass will not transmit heat radiation.". So now I am confused. If glass won't transmit heat radiation, then why do we feel hot when we sit ...
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0answers
29 views

Light pulses and energy-time uncertainty principle [duplicate]

Suppose we have a monochromatic light beam. We put an obstacle between source and observer and remove it repeatedly by certain frequency such that observer sees an oscillating intensity of light. Will ...
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1answer
212 views

Why does a light wave invert at a boundary with greater index of refraction?

Is there a reason why a EM wave reflects invertedly when it meets a boundary point with a greater index of refraction. In the case of ropes, if remember correctly, the reason why it inverts is to ...
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1answer
198 views

Is Huygen's Principle Axiomatic?

Is Huygens Principle just a fundamental way to understand light? It always seemed to me that it was somehow "derived" or that it should be-but is it simply a well-founded theory?
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1answer
154 views

The effect of dark lines in the Sun's spectrum on reflected paint/ color

Its well known that the Sun's spectrum is not continuous, and that there are dark bands within the suns spectrum. Is it possible to produce a color of paint that is bright in, say, indoor lighting and ...
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2answers
118 views

What is the transmittance function of a photo filter?

The effect of some photo filters can be summarized in transmission curves such as this one: I do not understand which physical value is modified by the value labeled as "Diffuse Density" in the ...